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Ragamuffins Coffee House, a non-profit coffee house owned by the Redemption Community Church, has been banned from holding Sunday worship services by the city of Laurel, Maryland.
The church moved to the downtown Laurel area and set up the coffee shop to minister to the poor. It planned to serve coffee six days a week, and hold worship services at the shop on Sundays, CBN News reported.
“Churches can be fortresses,” said Reverend Jeremy Tuinstra, head of the church, in a 2017 interview with The Baltimore Sun. “I would stand up and preach about loving our neighbors and I didn’t know mine.”
Ragamuffins comfortably seats 49 people on the main level and had additional space downstairs for meetings, the paper reported.
The church would soon receive a letter from the city saying they had to stop holding worship services or be subject to a weekly fine of $250, according to CBN News.
Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit Friday on behalf of Redemption Community Church, insisting that the “law forces houses of worship to submit to an expensive, time-consuming, and uncertain special exception process that is not imposed on secular organizations.”
ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb said the city is violating federal law.
“The government can’t discriminate against churches simply because they are religious,” Holcomb said in a statement.
“Despite making every effort to work with the city to comply with its burdensome zoning changes, Redemption Community Church is now being told to either stop holding worship services or pay severe fines,” she added. “Federal law is clear: The city’s discriminatory practices violate the law.”
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